February 7th, 2008
02:37 PM ET
15 years ago

Romney quits race, shocks supporters at CPAC

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/POLITICS/02/07/romney.campaign/art.mitt.romney.20.ap.jpg caption=" Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is suspending his campaign."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Mitt Romney ended his presidential run Thursday, telling a conservative audience that continuing the race against rival John McCain would make it more likely Democrats would win the White House - and “in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

Boos rose from the audience at the mention of McCain’s name – and shocked calls of “no!” as he made his announcement. One young man in a blue sports coat grasped his head in his hands, his mouth wide open as he watched Romney on-stage.

“Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat,” said Romney.

“And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child’s play. About this, I have no doubt.”

The former Massachusetts governor, who conceded the mathematical odds standing between him and the nomination, told activists gathered for the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington that “I must now stand aside, for our party and our country."

As his supporters filed out of the ballroom where Romney made the announcement, many carrying his campaign signs and merchandise, a moderator mentioned McCain’s upcoming CPAC speech – drawing an immediate and sustained chorus of boos from the crowd.

“I didn’t see this coming at all,” said Pennsylvania college student Andrew Coons, holding a Romney sign under his arm. “I was completely surprised. But this was an honorable thing for him to do.”

His friend Andrew Trout added that, despite hostility from many of conservative activists at CPAC this week, John McCain had a shot at winning their support – a great deal depended, he said, on the senator’s speech later Thursday afternoon. Romney represented conservative values better than anyone else in the race, he said, but ultimately “I vote the party, not the person.”

Related video: Romney: 'I hate to lose'

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. Dennis

    Quote: “in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

    Mitt, lest we forget, it was the Republicans who allowed the largest attack on our country to happen in the first place.

    God bless you for suspending your campaign; He didn't want you there anyway...

    February 7, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. Temisan

    I am not surprised he pulled out, he had no chance of winning. I am disappointed that he feels the need to wrap this in a patriotic or conservative cloak,it is dishonest.He could not win,so he got out,what does that have to do with Hilary or Obama. Throughout the debates, he was attacking McCain and everybody else, he is just a sore loser and I can see why all his opponents on the Republican side dislike him as well

    February 7, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. John

    So now McCain has many months to explain how the democrats are going to hand over the country to the terrorists and anyone who doesn't believe in the war, including independants and moderate republicans, are traitors to this country. This so the right wing will love him...

    Yeah, he's got the general election sewn up...

    February 7, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. egervari

    It'll be more likely that Democrats take the white house? That doesn't even make any sense...

    Why can't Romney just say you have no chance? Even as Romney suspends his campaign, he still couldn't tell the truth to the American people? No wonder why he lost.

    The truth is, everyone knows Romney is insincere and fake. He's also the worst business man. $100 million and can't even keep up to Huckabee? Please...

    While it is true that Hillary or Obama would kick his tail, there's no chance he would have been the nominee anyway. I just don't get his statements.

    February 7, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. robo

    I saw his speech to CPAC. Hopefully, we've reached a time where a minority–such as the radical right–will finally return to their proper place in the political arena–one of many viewpoints each of which deserves recognition and consideration. A second benefit may be that they finally live up to what they pretend to believe-a balanced budget rather than bringing poverty to the future generations; a judicial viewpoint which allows for original interpretation, including those they don't like; true Christian beliefs of treating all people as equal–not just the vested wealthy!

    February 7, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Jesus

    And thus ends the creepiest campaign in America's political history. Good bye sir, you will always be remembered for your hairdo, your money, your xenophobia, and your endless flip flopping.

    February 7, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. PBerry

    Goodbye Mitt. It wasn't nice to know ya.

    February 7, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Veronica from Orem

    Mitt lied. He said he would continue the campaign on Tuesday night even when he understood the position he'd fallen into and the lack of outside funds going forward. I guess I'm forced to realize that he was a flip-flopper all along and would say anything to get elected. Mitt is all about himself, not the country, not the people and not the good folks that supported him. Unless he moves to Utah, he'll never again be trusted in another run for office. Good riddance, now I can find a genuine candidate who cares enough to fight for principles and not just his own fame.

    February 7, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. Michael

    Mitt Romney has followed the honourable lead of John Edwards and rightly stepped down for the betterment of the party. Betterment not because John McCain is the best candidate, but rather because he will most certainly need time to unite the party well prior to the general election. Unfortunately, Romney's departure would not have been necessary had Mike Huckabee done the right thing prior to Super Tuesday.

    February 7, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. chris

    LIAR LIAR LIAR and a sore loser.. dont try to scare people with terrorist...there are real issues that need to be resolved in this country other than fighting some stupid war

    February 7, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. ken, holland pa

    the final flip flop from someone who has taken every side on every issue. the republicans dont deserve anything at this point. i guess you can say he cut and ran.

    February 7, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Kevin K.

    This was an economic decision for him. He was no longer willing to continue to drain his personal fortune on a lost cause. Had he not largely self-financed his campaign up to this point, he never would have been a serious contender.

    February 7, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  13. Christine Atlanta, Ga.

    " I vote the party, not the person" to quote the Romney supporter.
    ALL Republicans will now rally around McCain. Romney will probably be the VP, or Huckabee.

    The Republicans have been behind the big push for Obama. It has been the strategy all along. I believe Obama did as well as he did in the primarys because a lot of Republicans voted for him to help create the momentum.

    'Divide and conquer ' is why the Republicans defeat the Democrats.

    I know all the Obama supporters are going to freak out, and there will be a bunch of posts from "Republicans" who are crossing over to support Obama.
    "so inspired by his message of hope"
    Keep drinking the Kool Aid.

    February 7, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. Barry

    Mitt says he's dropping out because Clinton or Obama will end the war and we can't have that happen. War must go on and on and on and on.....it's good for the economy, right Mitt?

    February 7, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. mrland

    What a loser. And he goes out with yet another ignorant comment that shows he has no understanding about the war on terrorism, as opposed to the misguided war in Iraq. Obama or Clinton will go after Bin Laden with a vengeance and not let our dwindling resources (thanks to Bush's idiocy) waste away in Iraq.

    February 7, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. J. R.

    “I vote the party, not the person.”

    Beliefs like this are what is wrong with politics in this nation. If only the founders would have followed Washington's advice, and never seperated into political parties. As voters, we shouldn't blindly follow a party, just like the people elected to represent us shouldn't blindly follow party lines, but that's a topic for a different thread. I do believe Mitt is dropping out now to remain a viable candidate in a later election. To continue to make a serious try for the nomination would have been very costly, and could inhibit trying again.

    February 7, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. woody

    For once I agree with Romney – him dropping out is truly the best thing for this country.

    February 7, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. Mike

    "Romney represented conservative values better than anyone else in the race, he said, but ultimately “I vote the party, not the person.”"

    And that is what's wrong with this country. Vote for the person, not a party. Find out what a person stands for and get behind that.

    February 7, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. Joe

    Give me a break. He didn't do it for the party – he did it for his pocketbook. How many tens of millions of his own money did he spend? He's not stupid.

    February 7, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. Alicia, Birmingham Alabama

    You fool! This isn't going to unite the Republican's. My vote now has to go to Obama. I pray he wins the nomination. McCain v. Hillary? I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

    February 7, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. 2 Bad

    "but ultimately ,I vote the party, not the person.'"
    Which is exactly what's wrong with politics in America today.

    February 7, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Will

    Eh...we've been missing a moderate on both sides of presidential elections for 8 years now. McCain has proven to be more of a moderate so I can say I'm ok with this new news.

    Partisan politics is not a way to lead the country.

    February 7, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. Anthony Nelson

    It is gratifying to see the most superficial politician leave the field. Romney's cheap shot at Clinton and Obama provided more evidence as to how he would have conducted his campaign for the Presidency. The two Democratic candidates do not intend to leave the field of battle against terrorism. They just intend to fight it smarter and use all the appropriate forces, not just our overtaxed military.

    February 7, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Bob2U

    From the article: “I vote the party, not the person.”

    That's 'cuz you are an ideological fool who grants undeserved loyalty.

    February 7, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Isaac

    Good riddance. The last thing we need is another paranoid fear-monger in the oval office!

    February 7, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22